Equal Education welcomes the tabling of the 2016/17 budget by Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan. We particularly welcome the additional R16.3 billion allocated to the higher education sector over the next three years.
Equal Education (EE) remains in solidarity with South Africa’s renewed student movements for transformation, and urges the SAPS to immediately cease criminalising and brutalising students and workers on our higher education campuses. EE also remains uncomfortable with the presence of paramilitary security forces.
EE is encouraged by the increase in funding of R813 million for Early Childhood Development (ECD), which will see the number of children in ECD centres grow by 104 000 over the medium term period.
Minister Gordhan stated that basic education will see an increase from R204 billion this year, to R254 billion in 2018/19. While this is pleasing, EE is unhappy that he did not speak to the looming November 29 deadline for the Minimum Uniform Norms and Standards for Public School Infrastructure.
Accelerated schools infrastructure development initiative (ASIDI)
The School Infrastructure Backlogs Grant, also known as ASIDI, is an indirect grant to provinces that was introduced in 2011 as a temporary, high-impact measure. However, to address the grant’s “disappointing performance”, it will be merged with the Education Infrastructure Grant (EIG) from 2017/18. For this financial year, the grant is allocated R2.4 billion. The full value of the ASIDI grant (R5.4 billion) will be added to the EIG over the medium term
ASIDI has been plagued by under expenditure since 2011. EE is not certain that merging the two grants will ensure more efficient expenditure and delivery, as ASIDI was initially introduced due to insufficient provincial funding to address schools without water and electricity, and schools made out of inappropriate material. Although provinces have proved to use school infrastructure grants more efficiently than the national Department of Basic Education (DBE), EE questions whether a single school infrastructure grant will be sufficient to address the massive nationwide backlogs.
Furthermore, the table below demonstrates that the actual R2.3 billion 2016 allocation toward ASIDI is R214 million less than what was first projected in 2014.
Table 1: Total allocations to ASIDI: 2014/15 to 2018/19
Sources: National Treasury, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 Division of Revenue Act, 2016 Division of Revenue Bill, Appendix W9 & p.85
ASIDI underspent by R980 million during the 2015/16 financial year, meaning that only 52.1% of the fund was utilised. And by Minister Gordhan’s own admission, the ASIDI targets of rebuilding 510 inappropriate and unsafe schools, and of supplying water and electricity to over 1000 schools will only be met by 2018 – two years past the norms and standards 29 November 2016 deadline. How can Treasury accept this? What plans have they put in place to improve expenditure and to meet the legally binding deadlines?
If one looks carefully at the 2015 Division of Revenue, it is noticeable that projected ASIDI allocations were only set aside for the Eastern Cape and the Free State for the 2015/16 financial year, at R1.8 billion and R544 million respectively. The Eastern Cape was the only province that had an estimated allocation R2.6 billion for 2017/18.
This is no longer the case with the merger of the two grants: not only did the Eastern Cape’s ASIDI grant decrease to R1.5 billion but the Free State’s allocation decreased to a mere R237 million. Their respective 2016/17 and 2017/18 allocations were shifted towards the unallocated ASIDI amount of R118 million for 2016/17.
The schools targeted under ASIDI are of course outside of all the other schools in the country whose dire needs must be tended to prior to November 26 this year.
Education infrastructure grant
As previously stated in last year’s budget speech, the Education Infrastructure Grant (EIG) is the vehicle through which Norms and Standards will be met. It is therefore concerning that the EIG has seen a baseline reduction of R160 million this year, with a total baseline reduction of R520 million over the medium term.
Table two below clearly illustrates the changes in allocation to EIG from one budget speech to the next.
Table 2: Total allocations to education infrastructure grant
Sources: National Treasury, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 Division of Revenue Act, 2015 Division of Revenue Bill
Although EE welcomes the EIG increase over the mid term from R9.6 billion in 2016 to R13.5 billion in 2018, these increases are not a demonstration of Treasury putting forward new and additional funding towards EIG, but it is merely diverting ASIDI funding toward EIG. Furthermore, R7.4 billion will remain unallocated (reserved by Treasury) over the medium term, subject “to a review of pipeline projects in 2016”. This leaves EE and provinces unsure of what funding to expect as Treasury has not decided on how and when these funds will be apportioned.
Another major issue with EIG is underspending by provinces, which has influenced allocation reductions. The Eastern Cape, received a 12% decrease in their allocation, partly due to previous underspending on this grant. The overall EIG under expenditure totalled R1.7 million in the 2015/16 financial year, meaning only 82.5% of the fund was utilised.
Table 3: 2016 EIG Allocations according to Province
|Province||2015/16 EIG Allocation||2016/17 EIG Allocation||% increase/decrease|
Source: National Treasury Division of Act 2015, Division of Revenue Bill 2016, Table W1.2
EE will not accept this as the norm and wants the Eastern Cape Education Department to be held accountable. Treasury cannot simply accept low spending – ultimately returned funds – from provinces. There needs to be penalties for this and a mechanism put in place to ensure that implementation plans are met. It is not enough to withhold funds, as this perpetuates the lack of delivery, and our children suffer the consequences. This is unacceptable.
With ASIDI merging with EIG as of next year, provinces need to commit more of their Equitable Share (ES) toward school infrastructure. The EIG provides co-funding for the ongoing infrastructure programme in provinces to allow for the provision of current infrastructure requirements, which includes the maintenance of existing stock and new infrastructure where required, and to progressively meet the Norms and Standards for school building. Last year Limpopo allocated nothing of its equitable share towards school infrastructure, and most provinces commit very little. This is also unacceptable. Provinces cannot depend on EIG allocations alone – they need to ensure their provincial infrastructure needs are met. The provinces will have to commit some of their ES towards education infrastructure.
While Equal Education welcomes the increase in funding for education in this year’s budget speech, we are concerned that Minister Gordhan did not speak about Norms and Standards for school infrastructure; how the first deadline of November 29 this year will impact the education budget; and what allocations have been made for the implementation of the regulations. The questions EE posed in its pre-budget speech statement on Monday are unanswered:
- How will the Norms and Standards be funded?
- How will the first Norms and Standards deadline be met?
We look forward to the provincial budget speeches, which may provide some of the answers and provide a clear indication of just how concerned government is about attending to the material conditions that children must endure in order to access education.
For further information contact:
Ntuthuzo Ndzomo (Deputy General Secretary, Equal Education)
072 931 4343
Andile Cele (Parliamentary Officer, Equal Education)
083 719 3677
Leanne Jansen-Thomas (Head of Policy and Training, Equal Education)
079 494 9411
 2016/17 Budget Speech, pg. 22
2016/17 Division of Revenue Bill, pg. 84
 2016 Division of Revenue, pg. 74 &75
 2015/16 2nd and 3rd Quarter Report, Portfolio Committee on Basic Education, slide 70
 2016 Division of Revenue Bill, pg. 84
 2016 Division of Revenue Bill, pg. 84
 2015/16 2nd and 3rd Quarter Report, Portfolio Committee on Basic Education, slide 65
 Ibid., slide 73
 Vote 14, Basic Education, 2016/17 Budget, pg. 16